French national network
of contemporary art centres

Contemporary art centres


Contemporary art centres are key institutions in the visual arts sector. Through their ambitious programming and their structural singularities, they have become essential mechanisms for the production and dissemination of contemporary art. For nearly 50 years, they have contributed to art history as well as accessibility for as many people as possible and are one of the spearheads of the cultural decentralisation policy.

Most of them are subsidised by public funds and most of them are associations, although some are directly managed (regional, departmental, or municipal). Their range of activities varies from one place to another, depending on their funding and their location, whether in the city centre, suburban or rural areas.


Contemporary art centres organise their activities around fundamental missions:

Organising exhibitions

The contemporary art centres design, produce, co-produce and present 300 exhibitions of contemporary art each year.

Producing works

Each year, the contemporary art centres produce or co-produce nearly 1,500 new works, accompanying the artists as closely as possible throughout their projects. Many of these artworks are then included in public and private collections of national and international significance.

Prospecting, researching, experimenting

Contemporary art centres are places dedicated to artistic research and exploration, allowing artists to develop and disseminate their projects. Each year they exhibit nearly 1,200 artists. For many of them, their first exhibitions were supported by the contemporary art centres.

Experiencing art for all audiences

The contemporary art centres guide the broadest range of audiences in the discovery of today’s art. Seeking to promote a sensitive experience and knowledge of the artworks, they design different types of initiatives and tools for the 1.2 million visitors they receive each year. Working in close collaboration with the artists, they also develop projects with them involving an educational dimension.

Educating in the arts and culture

The contemporary art centres are major operators in artistic and cultural education. They carry out specific activities for the 145,000 schoolchildren who visit them each year and, using specially designed teaching resources, enable them to encounter contemporary art.

Territorial networking

Operating in 12 of the 13 French metropolitan regions, the contemporary art centres provide 400 direct jobs and are essential economic forces. They participate in the structuring and development of the territory where they are located, often for a long time, by contributing to economic and social exchanges within a partnership logic with local businesses. Similarly, they are part of a multidisciplinary collaborative approach with all the cultural structures in their area to offer a wide range of services, as closely as possible to the population.

International outreach

The contemporary art centres engage in international cooperation projects, notably through the European Assembly of Contemporary Art Centres. This international dimension strengthens their programming visibility and reflects their ambition to explore diverse formats of artistic collaboration.